How to make frozen french fries in an air fryer

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How to make frozen french fries in an air fryer
There's no need to defrost frozen french fries before putting them in the air fryer.Todd Taulman / 500px/Getty Images
  • Air frying produces crispier fries than the oven and is less messy than deep frying.
  • Preheat the air fryer, and use the proper cook time for the kind of french fry you're making.
  • For the best results, don't overcrowd the basket and toss them halfway through cooking.

Frozen french fries are a convenient snack food and a total crowd-pleaser. All of the hard work is done for you, so all you have to do is retrieve them from the freezer and heat them up.

While you can use the oven or even a deep fryer, there's a better option: the air fryer. There are a few big reasons why you should use the air fryer to heat up frozen french fries.

  • Crispier results: "You'll get crispier results than baking fries thanks to the convection," says Breville product expert, Karen Diep.
  • Less oil and mess than frying: Many frozen fry brands include instructions for deep frying. While it guarantees crispiness, it can make a real mess and requires a lot of oil. "Air frying is a great alternative to getting crispier fries without the excessive fat that comes with deep frying," says Diep.
  • Quicker than the oven: Diep points out that air frying is also faster than baking, shaving off a third or more of the cook time.

Cook times for different types of frozen french fries

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How to make frozen french fries in an air fryer
Crinkle-cut french fries will typically take about 10 to 14 minutes to cook in the air fryer.Ilia Nesolenyi/Getty Images

Many frozen french fry brands now include air fryer instructions right on the bag. "I would recommend using the instructions indicated on the package as the manufacturer will have developed and tested the product many times," says Diep.

If the fries don't include instructions, the cook time will vary depending on the kind of fry and the thickness. This chart is a good starting point, but keep a close eye on the fries as they cook.

Type of fryCook time
Regular8-12 minutes
Waffle9-13 minutes
Crinkle-cut10-14 minutes
Sweet potato8-12 minutes
Shoestring6-10 minutes
Steak10-14 minutes

Quick tip: There's no need to defrost french fries. "I recommend that frozen french fries be kept completely frozen before using," says Diep. Thawing the fries will result in sad, soggy fries, so take them out of the freezer just before cooking.

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How to cook frozen french fries in an air fryer

How to make frozen french fries in an air fryer
Make sure not to cook too many french fries at once, as this cause them to be soggy.Henk Hulshof/Getty Images

If the frozen french fries include air fryer instructions, reference them to determine the temperature and a ballpark cook time. How many fries you can heat at once will depend on the size of your air fryer.

  1. Preheat the air fryer. Diep notes that a preheated air fryer is essential for the crispiest fries. If your frozen fries don't include air fryer instructions, Diep recommends "reducing the temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a general recommendation for all conventional to convection oven conversions." For example, if your package calls for baking at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Arrange the fries. Add fries to the basket in a single layer. Diep points out that overcrowding the basket will lead to soggy fries, so it's best to cook in batches rather than to overlap the fries.
  3. Air fry. Set the timer according to the package instructions or, depending on the type of french fry you're heating up, use the lowest timing listed in the chart divided in half. For example, if you're heating crinkle-cut fries, set the timer for five minutes.
  4. Toss. Once the timer goes off, give the fries a good toss and spread them out again. Set the timer for the remaining cook time, checking often to make sure they don't brown too much.
  5. Serve. Once the fries are nice and crisp, remove them from the air fryer. Serve hot. If desired, repeat with more fries.

Serving suggestions

Crispy, piping hot french fries are delicious all on their own, but they also go great with a range of dips and toppings. When in doubt, "you can never go wrong with classic ketchup," says Diep.

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  • Amp up your side dish by tossing the hot fries in a spice mix. Try a barbecue blend, chili powder, or your own concoction.
  • Serve french fries with a fun dipping sauce, like garlic aioli, honey mustard, spicy ketchup, or a selection.
  • Add the crisp fries to a wrap, burrito, or even a salad for a bit of salty crunch.
  • Top the hot fries with nacho toppings like cooked, spiced ground beef or chopped steak, gooey cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.

Insider's takeaway

If you want crispy fries with minimal clean-up, the air fryer is the best choice for heating up frozen french fries. Be sure to preheat your air fryer and don't overcrowd the fries in the basket. The cook time will depend upon the thickness of the fries, with thin varieties like shoestring taking less time than thick ones like steak fries.

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